A not so obvious 403 error permission denied in IIS 7.5

What could be worse than having your live website inaccessible for a long time? Yesterday, I went onto live chat with my web host because I couldn’t get something working. I wanted to block an IP address that was causing a lot of errors and 404s on my website. I’ve added an entry in the IP and Domain Restrictions Settings in IIS the day before assuming the web server will block all requests to any pages on my sites. Well the following day, I got a few more email alerts regarding more 404 errors through email and it came from the same IP I have banned.

ip address restrictions

So I talked to someone from the web hosting company but she seemed clueless. I figured out she was a Level 1 customer support and had little knowledge, so I left the chat but I was unaware she would mess things up completely for me. After an hour, when I was checking the real time data on Google Analytics, I was surprised to see no visitors online. This has never happened before and I waited for 5 mins but nothing changed. So I tried to access my website to see if there was a problem and bam, I was greeted with an HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied – You are not authorized to view this page – You do not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials that you supplied. My heart sank and I tried other domains on the same server but everything was down.

I tried to fix the problem myself but I could not find the root cause of it. I checked whether anonymous access was enabled and whether the IUSR account was working fine. I tried assigning new application pools too but it did not work. I disabled the firewall as well but in vain.

By the time a support ticket was opened and someone fixed the problem, the downtime was just over 2 hours. I hate to think about how many visitors were put off by this and how much money I lost along the way. It was the first time, my sites were offline for such a long time. Anyway the problem was that the stupid lady went into IP Address and Domain Restrictions and turned “Access to unspecified clients” to Deny which caused the 403 problem. By turning this back to allow, the problem was fixed.

feature settings

I did not spot the problem because I did not realise the Feature Settings had more configuration options for the IP Address and Domain Restrictions module. Anyway, I’m glad things are working fine again.


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